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Monday, 28 October 2013 07:00

PDC Smart Band® RFID System Revolutionizes Data & Race Management at Intl Triathlon

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PDC Smart Band® RFID System Revolutionizes Data & Race Management at Intl Triathlon

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Laura Davis
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Kailua-Kona, Hawaii--At the world renowned Triathlon Competition in Kona, Hawaii, speed, flexibility, and efficiency are traits commonly linked to the athletes who perform in this grueling event. This year, these qualities were also used in praise of the event's electronic wristband system-a revolutionary first for the "monster" of all triathlons.
 
The race on October 18 was the first of its kind to replace traditional wristbands with Smart Band® Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Wristbands by PrecisionPoint, a global leader in automatic identification. The new system revolves around a tiny, flat RFID chip, sealed in a non-transferable vinyl wristband, that uses customized software to store and transfer data which is read by RFID readers. The system linked athlete identification data to a photo database, managed inventory disbursement, and provided event staff immediate access to personal and medical data throughout the race.

Registration: Athletes' Personal Data is Stored on Band

During event check in, 1,648 participants received race kits that included individually serialized PrecisionPoint Smart Bands®. Each wristband was pre-programmed with vital personal information including race and bib numbers, personal contact, medical information, and prior race status. Unlike bar code wristbands, with Smart Band® 256 characters of information can be stored on the factory sealed RFID chip. Standing up to the riggers of the rough Kona climate, Smart Band® can be read through clothing, water, and the body-day or night.
 
Smart Band® also helped automate and streamline the photography system at Kona. The event photographer took pictures of each athlete and captured their wristband serial number with an RFID reader. After the race, a Kodak Technology database digitally synchronized the athlete's photo with his/her wristband serial number (and other applicable data, such as photo date and time). This provided a faster, easier method of retrieving photos of the athletes.
 
In addition, Smart Band was used as an inventory device to log the distribution of CO2 cartridges, which were provided to athletes for bicycle tire inflation. RFID is uniquely suited for inventory management and tracking as it has the ability of counting inventory up to eight times faster than with bar codes.
 
Judi Geisler, Registration Director for the event, praised the automated feature of the RFID system. "It allowed us to quickly check in participants without the large number of paperwork used in prior years," she said. She was also impressed by the system's added level of security which enabled race officials to accurately identify participants during the days leading to the event.
 
Geisler is already thinking about ways in which the event's registration process can be further improved with RFID. In the future, she would like to program athletes' information to the bands during registration to ensure that data is current. "This way, we can record recent information such as race day weight or athletes' local accommodations incase of emergency," she said.
 
Geisler's staff was very excited about the new technology, she said, and this excitement is reflected in her tone as she sets her sights to 2004: "I would love to see the system used next year! Any element that makes this race stand out makes it that much more fun to be a part of. The athletes thought it was cool," she said.

Medical Tent: RFID Provides Immediate & Accurate Data for Medical Personnel

Perhaps the most valuable part of PrecisionPoint's Smart Band System was its benefit to medical operations at Kona. Athletes who finished or dropped out of the race were immediately lead to a medical tent for treatment. Smart Band® readers were deployed throughout the medical tent, as well as on the race course in ambulances. The RFID system's ability to provide positive personal and medical data to medical staff gained high praise by Dr. Doug Hiller, Medical Director at the event.
 
"In previous years, long paper lists were used to track medical information," Dr. Hiller said. He praised the automated system's speed, efficiency, and ability to act as an electronic medical file for the patients, who come from 44 different countries and many of whom do not speak English. "With the new system, we didn't have to converse with the patients. Vital data was electronically transmitted, which is very helpful. It gave me confidence in dealing with patients. I was very pleased with the system," he said.
 
In healthcare facilities, the Smart Band® system's ability to provide positive patient identification can help save lives and money through reduced medical errors. The system helps to ensure that the "Five Rights of Medication Safety" are achieved, facilitating real-time confirmation of right patient, right drug, right dose, right route, and right time.
 
Going forward, Judi Geisler said the system would provide peace of mind and assurance to family members of injured athletes. "If I was a parent or spouse of an athlete and something happened to them, I'd feel calm in knowing that all medical information is stored on that little chip," said Geisler.
 
Victor LaRosa, PrecisionPoint RFID Manager, said many other features can be programmed for use with Smart Band®. For instance, the wristband can be used as a portable electronic wallet for point of sale applications. "Cash can be stored on the wristband, and then debited for instant purchases," said LaRosa. "In food & beverage applications, the system can also check and verify age/ID, reduce shrinkage, and allow for breakage."
 
"In patron management, PrecisionPoint is in the business of providing faster, more efficient, and more convenient methods of transactions for facilities, events, and their participants," said LaRosa. From sales, to admissions, to security, to point-of-sale, to merchandising, RFID helps to simplify and streamline operations, while increasing revenues-a win win for all involved."
With nearly 50 years of experience, PrecisionPoint is the global leader and pacesetter in the development of automatic identification wristband systems and quality healthcare products. The company introduced the first patient bar code ID wristband in 1984 and radio frequency identification (RFID) wristbands in 2000. PrecisionPoint also provides premium healthcare products for labor & delivery, urology, and other applications. PrecisionPoint's quality system meets the requirements of the International Standards Organization ISO-9001 certification, representing the finest in product service, design, and manufacturing. For more information, call 866.403.6526 or 818.897.1111 x. 1320 or visit www.pdc-rfid.com
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